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A book by Michael Crichton

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Prey tell?

  • Nov 12, 2010
I have had little success with popular thriller writers.   Clive Cussler's writing is comically inept (but not enough to make me read a second title), and Dan Brown's DaVinci Code is passable but tepid and hardly worth a followup.  This Michael Crichton came highly praised for its technical topic, as his books always are, and since I hadn't read any of them, I thought to try it.

Well, it is better than Cussler, faint enough praise, and about on par with Dan Brown.  Which means I passed a pleasant enough hour or two (Prey reads very fast) on a thriller about nanotechnology and distributed programming.  A Silicon Valley startup seeking venture capital (which instantly dates this book--"remember when there were startups and venture capitalists?" is tweet-worthy now) has found a way to perfect nanotechnology manufacturing and combine it with distributed programming to produce smart swarms to solve problems in the health field--and, with tweaks, high-tech weaponry--of course; in books of this stripe, if the conspirators aren't affiliated with resurrecting or suppressing an ancient heresy, they work for the US military).   And equally of course is the technical glitch no one foresaw--the swarms have gotten out of the lab.

The story is predictable--I quickly and correctly guessed one of the big plot developments that was supposed to be a horrifying a-ha moment--and the writing uninspiring.  Two false endings and a surprisingly flat true ending make for a dull finish.  Undeveloped and discarded characters destroy credibility.  Most notably, the hero is a stay at home dad with three children, including a 9-month old baby who mysteriously suffers a full-body rash that drives him to a late-night emergency room visit, where the rash and the crying jag that went with it end just as abruptly after hours of inconclusive tests.  Fair enough--often the simplest medical complaints are the hardest to diagnose.  But then, after returning home the next day, the seemingly healthy baby develops a uniform deep-purple skin color over her whole body--and the hero barely reacts to this!  Any real parent would drop everything, up to and especially saving the world" to find out what happened and why--but not this parent.  This plot development is dropped and forgotten for a couple of hundred pages--until needed for one of the cap after recap of technical issues ad nauseum as the action starts to wind down.

I know Crichton was a huge best seller, and I've never read those like The Andromeda Strain, The Terminal Man, and Jurrasic Park for which he is more well known.  So I shouldn't hammer him for this lesser-known novel.  But I probably won't be tempted to pick up another based on "Prey."

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review by . August 19, 2010
   Prey is science fiction in a much more pure form than what most science fiction writers put out. Michael Crichton was always brilliant about that. He did the same thing for Dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, and for many other subjects in his books. Crichton takes a real idea with real science behind it and takes it to the logical (extreme) conclusions. What would be the logical conclusion (taken to the extreme) if we figured out how to get Dinosaur DNA and started cloning them? What would …
review by . April 15, 2008
Pros: Exciting, freakish, well-researched and well-constructed novel     Cons: Some things I think Jack should have figured out (because I did before him)     The Bottom Line: The scary part is that this is something that could happen sometime in the future...     Jack Forman is unemployed. Bummer. He used to be in charge of creating computer programs that are based on animal behaviors, this way the programs can run on their own and still …
review by . May 31, 2005
As per usual, Michael Crichton takes a top that he is currently interested in (nanotechnology in this case) and weaves an entertaining story around this central theme. Better than Crichton's last book (Timeline), I quickly got through this story and wasn't disappointed in the slightest bit.    For all Michael Crichton fans I would recommend "Prey" and I think you would find it a good, albeit light read. If for nothing else, Crichton's meticulous research into the field of nanotechnology …
review by . September 20, 2004
A repeated theme in Michael Crichton's "Prey" goes something like this: "Things never turn out the way you think they will." I find myself wishing that this were true of the novel itself. "Prey" is a novel that only Michael Crichton could have written, and that comes with both the good and the bad.    Crichton's plot, timing, and his ability to keep a story clipping along at a brisk pace are all in evidence here. Michael Crichton books are sometimes better than others, but he …
review by . June 10, 2004
Crichton does an excellent job of writing a heart-pounding high tech thriller! This is a story of nano-technology gone out of control. Those familiar with Ben Bova's tales (Venus, The Asteroid War series, etc.) would know the concept of nano or microscopic computer technology going in. In both cases the potential is there for both good results and total disaster. It is scary because science is probably trying very hard to perfect this technology and the way things seem to be designed today; the …
review by . March 05, 2004
Remember the plot of Jurassic Park? The well meaning scientists, the crazed mercenaries, the bewildered civilians and the villians---tons of ready-made living dinosaur meat cultivated from Jurassic era DNA? All this made for a good story and a fully blown cinematic spectacle when the creatures were brought to life on the big screen.     That's pretty much the tale of Prey---instead of dinosaurs, the menace consists of a "swarm" of nano-sized computers created by a Silcon Valley …
review by . February 09, 2004
Michael Crichton has produced another high-tech page-turner that will hold your interest to the very end. You might call it Andromeda Strain meets Jurassic Park since the human-engineered malevolence is at the microscopic level in the form of nanoparticle-sized machines that have escaped from their laboratory and begun reproducing at an alarming rate.The narrator of this adventure, Jack Forman is an expert in distributed programming. Only now his career has been interrupted by some Silicon Valley …
review by . January 05, 2004
A hallmark of Michael Crichton's work over the years has been the issue of technology with unintended consequences thanks to human error. We are not as smart as we think we are, in short. From his first book, "Andromeda Strain" (which later became a movie of the same name) his literary vision has been of forefront technology coupled with human error bringing about unintended and often disastrous results. In "Andromeda Strain," the spacecraft brings to earth space microbes that grow and kill. A concern …
review by . January 29, 2003
this was highly intersting and suspenceful. Jack is a lovable character, and one roots for him, through this weird ordeal he got himself into. The enemy is hard to evade, since it can be invisible, unless it forms into a big black swarm. It's kinda like the 1986 Chernobly accident, the invisible radioactive rays that killed so many people. The silent and invisible enemy! You think it's not there, untill you see what happens to ya! awesome book, one of Crichtons bests!
review by . January 06, 2003
Crichton introduces his cautionary tale of technology run amok with a fairly dire summation of human shortsightedness. "The total system we call the biosphere is so complicated that we cannot know in advance the consequences of anything that we do." Add greed and arrogance to ignorance and technology and you have the basic ingredients for one of Crichton's page-turning plots. "Unfortunately, our species has demonstrated a striking lack of caution in the past. It is hard to imagine that we will behave …
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Todd Stockslager ()
Ranked #38
I love reading and writing about what I have read, making the connections and marking the comparisons and contrasts. God has given man the amazing power to invent language and the means to record it which … more
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InPrey, bestselling author Michael Crichton introduces bad guys that are too small to be seen with the naked eye but no less deadly or intriguing than the runaway dinosaurs that made 1990'sJurassic Parksuch a blockbuster success.

High-tech whistle-blower Jack Forman used to specialize in programming computers to solve problems by mimicking the behavior of efficient wild animals--swarming bees or hunting hyena packs, for example. Now he's unemployed and is finally starting to enjoy his new role as stay-at-home dad. All would be domestic bliss if it were not for Jack's suspicions that his wife, who's been behaving strangely and working long hours at the top-secret research labs of Xymos Technology, is having an affair. When he's called in to help with her hush-hush project, it seems like the perfect opportunity to see what his wife's been doing, but Jack quickly finds there's a lot more going on in the lab than an illicit affair. Within hours of his arrival at the remote testing center, Jack discovers his wife's firm has created self-replicating nanotechnology--a literal swarm of microscopic machines. Originally meant to serve as a military eye in the sky, the swarm has now escaped into the environment and is seemingly intent on killing the scientists trapped in the facility. The reader realizes early, however, that Jack, his wife, and fellow scientists have more to fear from the hidden dangers within the lab than from the predators without.


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ISBN-10: 978-0066214122
ISBN-13: 0066214122
Author: Michael Crichton
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers
Publisher: Harperaudio
Date Published: November 01, 2002
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